Tonawanda News

The Town

December 7, 2013

Erie County Sheriff explains his opposition to SAFE Act

Tonawanda News — AMHERST — Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard called the 52 counties that passed a resolution opposing the SAFE Act the “modern day colonies” Friday at a Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.

“The power rests in Albany, and the governor is king,” he said. “He has ignored us.” 

The firearms law was passed in January after the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 young students and six adults. The law bans high-capacity magazines and requires ammunition dealers to complete background checks and report sales. Mental health professionals are also required to report at threat by a gun owner to a mental health director, who would then have to report serious threats to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Soon after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, Howard publicly stated that he would not enforce it. Although many criticized him for refusing to implement the measure, his stance helped him win his re-election campaign this November.

“Many people told me to play it down, but I felt way too strongly about it to do that,” he said. “I didn’t try to dodge what I believe.”

Howard argued that the law contradicts the Constitution’s Second Amendment. He said he has filed a friend of the court brief in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the act, and will wait until the Supreme Court upholds the measure to enforce it.

“I believe the Constitution is the law of the land,” he said. 

The law, which also requires ammunition leaders to do background checks and report all sales, has done nothing to deal with criminals — who he says will break the law anyway, he said. 

“Do you think that the criminals won’t put 10 rounds in their guns? It’s the responsible gun owners that are being affected,” he said. “All this does is break down the relationships between law enforcement and public.” 

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